Prominent Jews Condemn AIPAC Efforts in US Primaries

More than 100 prominent Jewish Americans signed a statement condemning the American Israel Public Affairs Committee's increasingly aggressive interventions in U.S. elections, particularly Democratic Party primaries.
Pro-Palestinian Jewish American demonstrators rally outside the Manhattan headquarters of the American Israel Public Affairs Committee on February 22, 2024 in New York City. (Photo: Selcuk Acar/Anadolu via Getty Images)

Prominent Jewish Americans Condemn AIPAC Effort to ‘Dominate’ US Primaries

“AIPAC is an essential link in the chain that holds in place the unbearable tragedy of Israel/Palestine.”

More than 100 prominent Jewish Americans signed a statement released Wednesday condemning the American Israel Public Affairs Committee’s increasingly aggressive interventions in U.S. elections, particularly Democratic Party primaries in which the powerful lobbying group is spending big to unseat progressives.

The statement’s list of signatories includes well-known scholars, rabbis, anti-war activists, journalists, and filmmakers who have “agreed to come together to highlight and oppose the unprecedented and damaging role of AIPAC” and its allied organizations in the American electoral process. The statement calls on Democratic candidates to reject all funding from AIPAC’s political network.

AIPAC’s political entities, including its United Democracy Project super PAC, are expected to spend $100 million this election cycle targeting candidates who have backed a cease-fire in Gaza or have otherwise been deemed inadequately pro-Israel.

“We recognize the purpose of AIPAC’s interventions in electoral politics is to defeat any critics of Israeli government policy and to support candidates who vow unwavering loyalty to Israel, thereby ensuring the United States’ continuing support for all that Israel does, regardless of its violence and illegality,” reads the new statement from Jewish Americans, which can be read in full below.

“Given that Israel is so isolated internationally that it could not continue its inhumane treatment of the Palestinians without U.S. political and military support, AIPAC is an essential link in the chain that holds in place the unbearable tragedy of Israel/Palestine,” the statement continues. “In the coming U.S. elections, we need to break that chain in order to help free the people of Israel/Palestine to pursue peaceful coexistence.”

“In contrast to AIPAC, we are American Jews who believe that U.S. support for foreign governments should only be extended to those that respect the full human and civil rights, and right to self-determination, of all people.”

The statement comes days after more than 20 progressive advocacy organizations—including Jewish Voice for Peace Action and the Jewish-led IfNotNow Movement—formed a coalition aimed at countering AIPAC’s influence in the 2024 elections after the lobbying group had a significant impact on the 2022 midterms.

According to OpenSecrets, most of the candidates AIPAC supported in the 2022 cycle won their races after the group’s super PAC raised more than $30 million.

In the current cycle, AIPAC’s top targets are members of the progressive Squad who have called for a cease-fire and end to weapons exports to Israel. As The Interceptreported earlier this month, AIPAC recruited and is funding Rep. Jamaal Bowman’s (D-N.Y.) primary challenger and is expected to spend heavily to unseat Rep. Summer Lee (D-Pa.), who overcame AIPAC money to win her seat in Pennsylvania’s 12th Congressional District in 2022.

On top of working to sink progressives, AIPAC has also previously “endorsed Republican extremists and dozens of Congress members who’d voted against certifying” President Joe Biden’s 2020 victory over former President Donald Trump, the Jewish Americans noted in their new statement.

“In contrast to AIPAC, we are American Jews who believe that U.S. support for foreign governments should only be extended to those that respect the full human and civil rights, and right to self-determination, of all people,” the statement reads. “We oppose all forms of racism and bigotry, including antisemitism—and we support the historic alliance in our country of Jewish Americans with African Americans and other people of color in the cause of civil rights and equal justice.”

“Therefore, we strongly oppose AIPAC’s attempts to dominate Democratic primary elections,” the statement adds. “We will support candidates who are opposed by AIPAC, and who are advocates for peace and a new, just U.S. policy toward Israel/Palestine.”

Read the full statement and list of signatories:

We are Jewish Americans who have varying perspectives. We’ve agreed to come together to highlight and oppose the unprecedented and damaging role of AIPAC (American Israel Public Affairs Committee) and allied groups in U.S. elections, especially within Democratic Party primaries. We recognize the purpose of AIPAC’s interventions in electoral politics is to defeat any critics of Israeli Government policy and to support candidates who vow unwavering loyalty to Israel, thereby ensuring the United States’ continuing support for all that Israel does, regardless of its violence and illegality.

Given that Israel is so isolated internationally that it could not continue its inhumane treatment of the Palestinians without U.S. political and military support, AIPAC is an essential link in the chain that holds in place the unbearable tragedy of Israel/Palestine. In the coming U.S. elections, we need to break that chain in order to help free the people of Israel/Palestine to pursue peaceful coexistence.

In the same 2021-22 election cycle in which AIPAC endorsed Republican extremists and dozens of Congress members who’d voted against certifying Biden’s victory over Trump, the AIPAC network raised millions from Trump donors and spent the money inside Democratic primaries against progressives, mostly candidates of color. AIPAC is now vowing to spend even more millions in the 2024 Democratic primaries, targeting specific Democrats in Congress—initially all legislators of color—who’ve advocated for a Gaza cease-fire, a position supported by the vast majority of Democratic voters. AIPAC’s election spending increasingly works to defeat candidates who criticize the racist policies of Israel.

In contrast to AIPAC, we are American Jews who believe that U.S. support for foreign governments should only be extended to those that respect the full human and civil rights, and right to self-determination, of all people. We oppose all forms of racism and bigotry, including antisemitism—and we support the historic alliance in our country of Jewish Americans with African Americans and other people of color in the cause of civil rights and equal justice.

Therefore, we strongly oppose AIPAC’s attempts to dominate Democratic primary elections. We call on Democratic candidates to not accept AIPAC network funding, and demand that the Democratic leadership not allow Republican funders to use that network to deform Democratic primary elections. We will support candidates who are opposed by AIPAC, and who are advocates for peace and a new, just U.S. policy toward Israel/Palestine.

Signed by: (Organizational Affiliations For Identification Purposes Only)

Adam Gold, Senior Strategist, Working Families Party

Adam Shatz, London Review of Books

Alan Levine, Civil rights lawyer

Alan Minsky, Executive Director, Progressive Democrats of America

Alicia T. Singham Goodwin, Political Director at Jews For Racial & Economic Justice

Rabbi Alissa Wise, Lead Organizer, Rabbis for Ceasefire

Alisse Waterson, Presidential Scholar and Professor, John Jay College, CUNY

Anna Baltzer, Author, “Witness in Palestine: A Jewish American Woman in the Occupied Territories”

Anthony Karefa Rogers-Wright, M4BL Black Hive/Black Alliance for Peace

Ariel Dorfman, Novelist, playwright, essayist, human rights activist

Ariel Gold, Executive Director, Fellowship of Reconciliation

Ariela Gross, Distinguished Professor, UCLA School of Law

Rabbi Dr. Aryeh Cohen, Professor, American Jewish University

Aurora Levins Morales, Writer

Aviva Chomsky, Professor of History, Salem State University

Aviva Orenstein, Professor, Maurer School of Law, Indiana University

Ben Cohen, Co-founder, Ben & Jerry’s, philanthropist

Ben Ehrenreich, Author, winner of American Book Award

Beth Miller, Political Director, Jewish Voice for Peace

Rabbi Brant Rosen

Rabbi Brian Walt

Caroline Levine, Professor of the Humanities, Cornell University

Dan Segal, Professor Emeritus, Anthropology and History, Pitzer College

Dan Simon, Professor of Law and Psychology, University of Southern California

Daniel Stolzenberg, Associate Professor of History, University of California, Davis

Danny Goldberg, Music executive, author

Dave Zirin, Sports editor at The Nation, author

David Vine, Professor of Anthropology, American University

Deborah Eisenberg, Writer and actress

Deena Metzger, Poet, novelist, and essayist

Dennis Bernstein, Poet, human rights reporter, and host of Flashpoints

Donna Nevel, Educator

Eliot Katz, Poet, author “The Poetry and Politics of Allen Ginsberg”

Elliott Gould

Eric Drooker, Graphic novelist and artist

Estee Chandler, Board Chair, Jewish Voice for Peace Action

Eva Borgwardt, National Spokesperson, If Not Now

Ira Shor, Professor Emeritus, Graduate Center, CUNY

Gabriel Winant, Assistant Professor of History, University of Chicago

Gail Hershatter, Professor Emeritus of History, University of California, Santa Cruz

Gene Bruskin, Labor leader and playwright

Hadar Cohen, Scholar, mystic, and artist

Hollie Ainbinder, Program Director, Institute for Public Accuracy

Howard Horowitz, Board President, WESPAC Foundation

Howard A. Rodman, Screenwriter, novelist, and educator

Ivan Handler, J Street Chicago

James Schamus, Filmmaker, Professor, Columbia University

Jay Levin, Founder of LA Weekly

Jeff Cohen, Media critic, retired Ithaca College journalism professor

Jeff Gottlieb, Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist

Jennifer Spitzer, Associate Professor, Literatures in English, Ithaca College

Rabbi Jessica Rosenberg, Organizer, founding member, Radical Jewish Calendar

Joel Beinin, Emeritus Professor of History, Stanford University

Judith Butler, Professor, University of California, Berkeley

Judith Gurewich, Publisher, Other Press

Kenneth Pomeranz, Professor, University of Chicago, Yuen Campus in Hong Kong

Larry Cohen, Former President of Communications Workers of America

Laura Dittmar, Professor Emerita, author of “Tracing Homelands”

Leora Auslander, Professor, University of Chicago

Lesley Williams, Librarian, Board Member, Jewish Voice for Peace Action

Lisa Sternlieb, Associate Professor of English and Jewish Studies, Penn State University

Marcy Winograd, Co-founder, Progressive Caucus, California Democratic Party

Marjorie Cohn, Professor Emerita of Law, past president of National Lawyers Guild

Mark Dimondstein, President of the American Postal Workers Union

Mark Weisbrot, Co-Director, Center for Economic and Policy Research

Martin A. Lee, Author, “The Beast Reawakens”

Maya Schenwar, Director, Truthout Center for Grassroots Journalism

Medea Benjamin, CODEPINK Co-founder

Michael Greenberg, Founder and Executive Director, Climate Defiance

Mike Hersh, Communications Director, Progressive Democrats of America

Mitchell Plitnick, President, ReThinking Foreign Policy

Molly Crabapple, Artist and writer

Morgan Spector, Actor

Naomi Dann, Chief of Staff, Housing Justice for All

Nomi Stolzenberg, Professor, USC Gould School of Law

Norman Solomon, National Director, RootsAction

Dr. Paul Zeitz, Author and activist

Penny Rosenwasser, Author, Center for Jewish Nonviolence

Peter Beinart, Editor-at-Large, Jewish Currents, author, and journalism professor

Phyllis Bennis, Fellow, Institute for Policy Studies

Rafael Shimunov, Radio host and co-founder, The Jewish Vote

Rebecca Vilkomerson, Organizer and author

Richard Bauman, Professor Emeritus, Indiana University

Richard Handler, Professor of Anthropology, University of Virginia

Rick Goldsmith, Documentary filmmaker

Robert Brenner, Professor Emeritus of History, UCLA

Robert Greenwald, Filmmaker, President of Brave New Films

Robert HerbstEsq., Board Co-Chair, Israeli Committee Against House Demolitions (ICAHD)

Robert Naiman, Former Policy Director, Just Foreign Policy

Robert Scheer, Author, journalist, publisher of ScheerPost

Sam Rosenthal, Political Director, RootsAction

Samuel Moyn, Chancellor Kent Professor of Law and History, Yale University

Sarah Jaffe, Journalist, author of “Work Won’t Love You Back”

Sarah Schulman, Writer

Seth Ackerman, Editor-at-Large, Jacobin

Sheldon Pollock, Professor Emeritus, Columbia University

Simone Zimmerman, Co-founder, IfNotNow

Sarah Sophie Flicker, Artist, actress, and activist

Spencer Ackerman, Journalist and author

Stefanie Fox, Executive Director, Jewish Voice for Peace

Susan Adelman, Feminist, activist, and philanthropist

Suzanne Gordon, Journalist and author

Suzi Weissman, Professor of Politics, St. Mary’s College

Tony Kushner, Writer

Victor Wallis, Professor of Liberal Arts, Berklee College of Music

Wallace Shawn, Actor & Playwright

Zillah Eisenstein, Professor Emerita of Politics, Ithaca College

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